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Wussy and Koala Fires: Local Music Rewired

By Mike Breen · September 22nd, 2010 · Spill It
Two local Indie Rock bands have had their music dismantled and pieced back together by a slew of area producers and electronic musicians. If you’re familiar with the Rock bands Wussy and The Koala Fires, imagining them as dance-floor-friendly Electro acts is a far-fetched concept. But both new remix projects are revelatory, retaining (and often putting more focus on) the songwriting and vocals of the originals. Somehow, the final products end up sounding perfectly natural and not at all like a round peg being hammered into a square hole (as it might seem on paper).

Remixing is far from a new concept, but newer projects like these and higher-profile “mash-up”-type works by Danger Mouse, Girl Talk and countless others (not too mention Blue Note’s remix albums of classic Jazz tracks and re-workings of unexpected artists like Lawrence Welk and Herb Alpert) show the increased creativity and artistic nature of remixers and how the virtual collaborations result in works that can stand on their own merit and make you see new dimensions in the originals.

• Wussy’s three full-length album releases have drawn the band well-deserved national attention, thanks to the raw catchiness and soulful vocal chemistry between songwriters Lisa Walker and Chuck Cleaver. Last year’s self-titled release showed the band at its peak, with Wussy’s best songwriting yet and a tighter, less shambolic vibe that gave the album more of a sense of cohesion.

The new Wussy remix album, This Will Not End Well, draws primarily from the songs on the self-titled album, though there are a handful of tracks from 2007’s Left For Dead.

Participants include superaction80 (the remixer guise of Jay Reynolds, who’s played sax with Funk bands SHAG and Freekbass and currently works with Hip Hop group da muttss), former Cincinnati/current Chicago Electro Indie duo Coltrane Motion, Lesniak and Cuddly D from Culture Queer, producer/turntable whiz kid djdq, Electro singer/songwriter Amy Ketchum, The Alter Boys (producer/musician John Curley and Wussy drummer Joe Klug) and Wussy multi-instrumentalist Mark Messerly.

The remixes range from atmospheric, ambient dreamscapes to beat-driven jams to more slanted, avant-garde reconfigurations. The electronic artists add beats and an array of sounds, creating new colors with which to paint Wussy’s basic blueprint (Cleaver and Walker’s vocals are usually the only elements of the original tracks used prominently).

A free listening party for This Will Not End Well (which will be a digital-only release) takes place at 9 p.m. Wednesday at Over-the-Rhine’s new MOTR Pub. Attendees receive one free preview track from the project. (www.wussymusic.com)

• Just as mixers took Wussy’s Play-Doh and shaped it into imaginative, wildly different formations, the just-released The Sleeping In Our Sharks features a wide range of reimaginings of songs by Cincy Rock foursome The Koala Fires. The eight-track digital EP uses material from KF’s full-length debut, The Beeping in Our Hearts, and includes mixes by KF band members Matt Mooney and Kendall Bruns (who recently left the band to move to Chicago), the aforementioned superaction80, progressive DJ/mixer DJ Empirical, acclaimed remix collaborative RAC, Cincy DJ/producer/mixer Positronic and singer/songwriter Evan Brass, formerly of local Pop/Rock band Fizzgig and now living in L.A.

Like the Wussy project, the range of approaches varies wildly — Positronic’s “Devil Girl From Mars” is a creative club banger and Brass gives “These Bones Will Dance” a Postal Service/Owl City Pop vibe (and keeps some of the rollicking guitars), while DJ Empirical’s spin on “Observers” sounds like a minimalistic psychedelic collage of TV on the Radio, Depeche Mode and Pink Floyd.

The Sleeping in Our Sharks is available for download now at koalafires.bandcamp.com. The band’s MidPoint performance at MIXX Ultra Lounge Saturday at 9:30 p.m. is the “release party” for the project (and also the first show with new guitarist Ben Evans). (koalafires.com)

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen@citybeat.com



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